Called Project Get Ready, the initiative was launched in February by the Rocky Mountain Institute, a Colorado-based think tank co-founded by renowned energy consultant Amory Lovins. The project's founding cities include Raleigh, Indianapolis and Portland.
"Toronto will be signing up," said Ben Marans, manager of special projects at the city's Toronto Atmospheric Fund.
He said there are many policy and infrastructure issues that need to be resolved before large volumes of electric vehicles can be accommodated on GTA streets.
Marans adds that participation also grabs the attention of automotive manufacturers, some of which have committed to producing "plug-in" hybrids and all-electric vehicles as early as 2010.
"They're all going to go where the market is," he said. It comes down to where future automotive jobs and investment will emerge. "They're not going to show up in Ontario if there isn't a model.''
The decision to join Project Get Ready builds on the province's partnership with Better Place, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based venture that's trying to create the infrastructure and service model that will support mass deployment of electric cars. The company has similar relationships in Australia, Denmark and Israel.
Premier Dalton McGuinty announced the partnership in January, emphasizing the importance of early preparation. "One of the most important things we can do is demonstrate we are a truly electric-car friendly jurisdiction," he said.
But Marans said "going electric" isn't going to happen overnight.
The city and province need to develop policies and incentives that will ease the transition to plug-in vehicles. This might include giving electric-car drivers priority access to high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes and parking spots. Where to charge vehicles is also an issue.
"For folks who don't have a garage or driveway living in downtown Toronto, where do they plug in?" said Marans.